What do consumers want to know about drugs (medication and lifestyle) in their pregnancy journey?

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Pijpers, E.L., McGuire, T.M., Kreijkamp-Kaspers, S., Deckx, L., Brodribb, W., van Driel, M.L. (2016). What do consumers want to know about drugs (medication and lifestyle) in their pregnancy journey? Online abstract. Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy: Proceedings of the Australasian Pharmaceutical Science Association (APSA) and the Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists (ASCEPT) Joint Scientific Meeting. 29 November to 2 December, 2015. Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, 12(5), e20.

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Drug use during pregnancy is common; yet data to support safety are mainly case reports and retrospective studies. There is also growing evidence for harmful fetal effects when treatment of certain maternal conditions is inadequate. Seeking information is a coping strategy and can assist with decision-making.


This study aimed to identify the medicines information needs of women across pregnancy stages and explore whether their questions could be justified by actual pregnancy risk.


We conducted a retrospective, mixed method study of pregnancy-related calls to an Australian consumer medicines call centre, NPS Medicines Line (September 2002-June 2010). Call characteristics were compared for pregnancy (n = 4,573) and non-pregnancy (n = 118,547) questions. Drugs of interest, motivations to call and question themes were analysed across pregnancy stages, with medicines assessed for risk, using the Australian categorisation system for prescribing medicines in pregnancy. Call narratives were explored for stage-specific themes.


Pregnancy-related enquiries were prompted more often by conflicting or inadequate information and request for second opinion. Most questions concerned safety. Psychotropic medication and fertility were strong drivers to seek information in preconception. Everyday illnesses and self-medication with Over-The-Counter products were of increasing concern as pregnancy progressed, with medicines classified as ‘safe’ accounting for 34% of questions.


Analysis of real world, pregnancy-related questions demonstrates that women are concerned about safe drug use in pregnancy and are likely to overestimate risk. Health care professionals should proactively address drug information gaps of women’s pregnancy stage-specific information needs during routine consultations.

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This document has been peer reviewed.